Ramona Community School is one of 35 elementary schools in San Diego County and 424 in the state selected a 2014 California Distinguished School, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced.
The school is honored for commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.
“Congratulations to the entire staff at Ramona Community School for earning a 2014 Distinguished School Award,” Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Robert Graeff, Ed.D., said in an email to district employees last Wednesday, the day of the announcement. “...This extraordinary award is the first one of its kind earned by RCS and is a tribute not only to the outstanding staff of the school, but also to its high-achieving students and supportive parent community.”
Ramona Community School, one of the district’s alternative schools, operates Montessori Academy and Mountain Valley Academy, a home study program that allows students to study exclusively at home or to combine home study with two or three days a week at school. The award is for the elementary segment — kindergarten through grade six — of both academies.
“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” said Torlakson. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”
To apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including accountability measures. Once schools are deemed eligible, the California Department of Education invites them to apply to be recognized as a California Distinguished School.
The process consists of a written application that includes a comprehensive description of two of the school’s signature practices, and a county-led site validation review process focused on the school’s use of those signature practices.
“The two signature practices we highlighted in our application were our BEST Behavior program and our work to improve communication with our parents,” said Kathryn Gunderson, Ph.D., Ramona Community principal.
Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and become a mentor to those seeking to replicate their work.
“We are excited about the recognition as a California Distinguished School,” said Gunderson. “Our staff and students work hard. Kudos to them and Carol Tennenbaum, the previous principal.”
This is Gunderson’s first year as Ramona Community School principal.
“We are overwhelmingly excited at the recognition of our students,’ noted Heather Pedersen, Ramona Community PTSA president.
The announcement went to Ramona Community families via an “all call” on Thursday and bulletins on the school website and Facebook page.
“The award is a result of the dedication and vision for years of our entire school community,” said Gunderson. “We are proud to join all the other schools in Ramona Unified who have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools and exemplary programs.”
She and other school and district representatives will attend an awards luncheon in Irvine on June 11.
The state recognizes elementary and secondary schools in alternate years.